Walker Turns Down Fed Money
(AP) Gov. Scott Walker says he will turn down $37 million from the federal government that had been awarded to help implement health care exchanges under President Barack Obama's health care reform law. Walker announced in December that Wisconsin would not pursue implementing the exchange until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the law. But he did not say whether the state would take the money. On Wednesday Walker said he was notifying the federal government that it was turning down the Early Innovator Grant, saying it didn't make sense to commit to reforms that could have a devastating economic impact.
The exchanges are designed to help consumers and small businesses compare health plans and increase competition by requiring insurers to offer more plans and provide more information.
Obama To Buy Ads In Wisconsin
(AP) President Barack Obama's campaign is buying advertising time in six states that will be critical to the president's re-election effort, a sign that the presidential campaign is entering a new phase. A campaign official says the Obama campaign has bought ad time in Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Iowa and on national cable television. The official spoke on condition of anonymity and was not authorized to speak publicly about internal campaign strategy.
Obama's campaign has not yet launched its television advertising, but the decision to buy ad time shows the campaign is moving closer to directly rebutting Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney and other GOP opponents on television. Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday and then travels to five states to discuss his policies.
Sex Education Bill Could Be Voted On Next Week
(AP) A contentious Republican-backed proposal that would stress abstinence education over contraception use is headed for a vote in the Wisconsin state Assembly.
The Assembly's education committee passed the bill Wednesday on a party line vote. It would rewrite a Democratic-backed law enacted two years ago that requires Wisconsin schools to offer a multi-faceted curriculum that also teaches about contraception. Several Democrats expressed disappointment in the proposal. But Republicans defended its emphasis on local communities' choice for how to teach sex education. The Senate passed the bill last year amid vocal opposition from several public health groups. Anti-abortion groups support the legislation. The bill could come up for a vote in the Republican-controlled Assembly as early as next week.
Walker Says He Will Win
(AP) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he believes petition circulators have enough valid signatures to force a recall election against him, and he wants it to happen sooner rather than later. Walker told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he has always assumed they would get the 540,000 signatures they need. Circulators turned in about 1 million signatures Tuesday, and Walker says he does not think enough will be invalidated to stop the election. Democrats say Walker is trying to delay any possible election for as long as possible. But Walker said Wednesday the sooner the election is over the better it is for the people of Wisconsin. Walker says he believes he will prevail in any election, no matter his Democratic opponent.
Mayor Vetoes Referendums
Figure you've got enough to worry about this spring? La Crosse mayor Matt Harter agrees with you. The mayor has vetoed city council approved advisory referendums that were to appear on the April ballot. Harter says in his veto message that a typical ballot has no more than one referendum. So adding advisory measures on top of a binding referendum on a city administrator would be overdoing it a bit. The advisory referendums sought to poll the city on whether electronic signs should be prohibited, whether numbers of billboards overall should be decreased and whether the city council should shrink by four members. To still have those measures on the spring ballot, the council would have to overturn the mayor's vetoes by Tuesday.